billgatesFrom a financial standpoint, 2013 was a good year for Bill Gates.

The Microsoft co-founder saw his fortune grow by $15.8 billion last year to $78.5 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Gates finished 2013 as the world’s richest person, a title he reclaimed back in May for the first time since 2007. His fortune increased by $7 billion in 2012.

Microsoft's stock grew by 35 percent in 2013.
Microsoft’s stock grew by 35 percent in 2013.

Part of that growth is due to Microsoft’s stock, which increased by more than 35 percent in 2013 alone. Gates is still Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder, with more than 4.5 percent of the company, according to Microsoft’s latest proxy statement.

Apart from endowing his philanthropic foundation, Gates has also diversified his investments, putting money into a variety of companies.

Of course, he’s probably not celebrating all of this.

“I can understand wanting to have millions of dollars, there’s a certain freedom, meaningful freedom, that comes with that,” he said in response to a student’s question in 2011. “But once you get much beyond that, I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger. Dick’s has not raised their prices enough. But being ambitious is good. You just have to pick what you enjoy doing.”

Also sitting pretty on Bloomberg’s list is CEO Jeff Bezos, who is currently in 13th with a net worth of $39.3 billion. Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is No. 44 at $17.8 billion, while Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is No. 57 at $15.6 billion.

In total, the world’s 300 richest saw their fortunes grow by $524 billion in 2013.

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  • Albatross

    I’m disappointed that your article failed to explore WHY Microsoft’s stock surged in price. It wasn’t due to innovative product developments, it was due to a stock buyback.
    These stock buybacks are good for CEOs and shareholders (10 percent of all Americans own 80% of all stocks), but are NOT good for the economy. Such financial games result in pay bonuses to top executives, but continue to sequester the wealth of the nation within the walls of corporations, which are NOT using the money to lower prices, raise wages, or develop innovative new products. They’re just hoarding it.
    $40 billion dollars of stock buybacks garnered the CEO $7 billion in asset value – but how many raises could that have paid, and how much could those workers have bought with that money? And how would THAT have stimulated the general economy.
    Like the housing bubble, the exploitation of such financial trickery can, and likely will, result in a bubble burst that hurts everyone. Until then the CEOs swim in champagne and the rest of us tighten our belts on wages that have not increased for over 30 years.

    • Beat The Struggle

      It’s not financial trickery. Buybacks are very vanilla.

      A corporation has a treasury department and if that treasury thinks that the market is undervaluing the company’s stock, then it can buy shares as an investment and dilute external holdings.

      A corporation’s treasury dept. is not the Federal Reserve or the Federal Government. It’s obligation is to it’s shareholders, not to the general well being of the economy.

      Also the $40 billion used for stock buybacks is not allocated to employee raises. The company could either buy back stock if the company thinks that market is undervaluing shares or it could declare a dividend to give that $40 billion back to shareholders.

      And it garnered the CEO a 35% rise in asset value, the same percentage that a person who owned 100 shares of MSFT stock would have also yielded.

      • Albatross

        Right, but here are some considerations:
        1) The corporate “treasury department” answers to the Board and CEOs, so fiscal elements are not the sole input. The Board and CEO do not receive a surprise notification “Oh, by the way, based on the numbers the treasury department has decided to spend $40 billion buying back stock.”
        2) Damn right the treasury department’s obligation is to its shareholders – that’s my point. Only 10% of Americans own 80% of the stock held in this country. So the buyback only benefits the top 10%
        3) “The $40 billion used for stock buybacks is not allocated to employee raises” – again, that’s my point. After-inflation wages for a given job in the United States have not risen for over 30 years, even as the US worker has become twice as productive. ALL those raises due to increased productivity have been claimed by the wealthy, and this kind of thing is exactly how.

        The workers are OWED raises. But instead of granting raises to ALL employees, Microsoft channeled $40 billion profits to the upper 10% of society that owns stocks. McDonald’s did the same thing – if the money McDonald’s used to buy back stocks were paid as wages, every McDonald’s restaurant worker could have been paid an additional $16/hr for a year.

        Meanwhile corporations rage against an increase in the minimum wage.

        Microsoft, McDonald’s, ALL these corporations are drawing value from society and workers, and channeling it upwards to the upper 10%. The gap between the rich and poor is as wide right now as it has ever been in America. And if we don’t step back and look at the big picture we’re just going to walk right into the next big crisis.

        Celebrating Bill Gates because he just sucked billions of dollars out of the economy and stuffed it into an off-shore tax shelter is like congratulating the guy who stole your car on his new car.

        • Loquacious Sage

          Your argument would hold more weight if it was born out by facts.

          Microsoft employees are generally some of the best-paid in their respective fields. This is not a Wal-Mart or McDonald’s where the majority of employees work in low-wage jobs. Most MS employees are required to have some form of higher education and collect a salary based on experience and market rate.

          Secondly, Microsoft invests a great deal of money in innovation and research. There’s a whole division of the company engaged in research projects that may never actually see the light of day as products, but the research pays dividends in developing technologies that may be useful in future products.

          Finally, Bill Gates is one of the most generous philanthropists in the history of the world. Yes, his assets increased last year, however, he gives billions to alleviate systemic poverty, malnutrition and disease in areas of the world that experience problems that even the poorest Americans will never encounter.

          If you want to spout your uninformed anti-rich opinions, then targeting Microsoft and Bill Gates is the wrong way to do it.

          • Albatross

            Well Microsoft employees are now $40 billion LESS well paid than they might have been.

            And the “philanthropy” argument holds no water with me. Making one’s society dependent upon the philanthropy of the wealthy is handing over power to those wealthy persons. It’s great if you’re one of their pet charities, and absolutely worthless if you’re a really deserving charity that doesn’t happen to fit the whims of the wealthy.

            My opinions are not “anti-rich,” my opinions are “pro democracy.” I am urging writers, as well as readers, to question their acceptance of such things as cheering on the excesses of the wealthy without questioning the impact of those excesses upon society and upon the political systems of our various nations.

            This story is about one man vacuuming up more money than the GDP of some small nations, through a technique that vacuums up even more money – billions of dollars removed from the economy and frozen in bank accounts.

            Paint it “anti-rich” if you like, but guess what – YOU’RE not rich. NOBODY reading this is rich. So “anti-rich” is “pro-you.”

            Maybe you should stop identifying with the folks who want our salaries to remain stagnant for 30 MORE years.

          • gest

            Given that the vast majority of Microsoft employees (if not all) are shareholders they just saw a 35% growth in their holdings. Seems like a good raise.
            FYI – the $40b buyback that just expired was over 5 years, not all done at one time. The just announced buyback just started and has no expiration date that I could find but my guess is they haven’t spent all $40b yet.

        • Beat The Struggle

          You post isn’t even worth commenting upon, as you have no understanding of corporate governance or a economy based on capitalistic principles.

          You’re not interested in learning about market based economics and corporate finance, you’re interested in spouting a utopian communistic ideal in distributing all the means of production within a society into the workers hands.

          The average salary at Microsoft for it’s “workers” is well over 6 figures. In addition, many of these “workers” and employees also receive compensation via company stock.

          • Albatross

            No apostrophe on a possessive “it.”

    • Nishi Hundan

      You are clueless

  • Guest

    Congrats to Bill! These monies will be a fantastic boon for the projects of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which benefits people all over the world.

    • gseattle

      Except the Seattle/Redmond area? A lot of traffic across the 520 bridge is due to Microsoft. People in this area have to pay higher taxes and tolls to replace it, Bill Gates’ legacy would be to be loved and adored if he could be inclined to step up and fund it for us. I would.

  • Sonya Wiley

    Hey big bro:
    Question: Do we have to keep lil Wayne around makes me want to throw up now that you know the circumstance and this issue will be eradicated. just asking! All the rappers put you in there song.

    Congratulations are in order, let’s make this an annual event of telling you to ‘stay there’ The richest
    Thank you

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